Johnson & Johnson Plans to Buy Vaccine Maker Crucell

Giant drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) wants a bigger piece of the vaccine market. To do that, it plans to buy all of the outstanding shares of Dutch vaccine maker Crucell (CRXL) that it doesn't already own for approximately €1.75 billion, or about $2.3 billion. The companies are in "advanced negotiations," they said in a joint statement.

J&J currently holds approximately 17.9% of Crucell shares and intends to buy the rest for €24.75 per share -- a 58% premium over Thursday's close of €15.70 -- in an all-cash transaction. European listed shares of Crucell soared some 55%.

Leiden, Netherlands-based Crucell produces, markets and develops vaccines, proteins and antibodies that prevent and treat infectious diseases. This potential transaction "would create a strong platform for Johnson & Johnson in the vaccine market," the companies said. Crucell, meanwhile, would benefit from the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company's "expertise and experience in the development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products," the companies said.

Sponsored Links

After the close of the potential transaction, J&J expects to maintain Crucell's existing facilities, senior management and current employment levels, the companies said. J&J also intends to keep Crucell as the center for vaccines within its pharmaceutical group and to maintain Crucell's headquarters in Leiden.

The majority of Crucell's vaccine doses are going to developing countries. With its 2006 launch of Quinvaxem, which protects against five serious childhood diseases, it became one of UNICEF's largest suppliers. Crucell's core portfolio includes a vaccine against hepatitis B and another against influenza. Crucell also has several product candidates in its pipeline based on its unique PER.C6 production technology, which it licenses to other companies.

Oversight Committee to Hold Another Children's Tylenol Recall Hearing

The Crucell news comes on the heels of another development late Thursday. Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) announced that the committee will hold another hearing on Thursday, Sept. 30, to examine the circumstances surrounding J&J's recall of over 135 million bottles of over-the-counter infant and children's medicines, including Children's Tylenol, Infant's Tylenol, Children's Motrin and Children's Benadryl. The products were produced by J&J's unit McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

The hearing will also specifically examine the "phantom recall" of a Motrin product, during which company contractors secretly repurchased all available Motrin products from pharmacy shelves. The actions became public as a result of the committee's earlier hearing on May 27, 2010. Towns also released internal company communications and emails from the subcontractor that carried out the phantom recall.

"This is about the safety of trusted medication that our children and grandchildren use. The evidence we have uncovered since our first hearing is extremely troubling," Towns said in a statement.

Towns invited J&J Chairman and CEO William Weldon, as well as Colleen Goggins, the worldwide chairman of J&J consumer group, to testify. Goggins testified in the previous hearing as well. But not long after the news of the hearing, J&J announced Goggins would be retiring effective March 1, 2011.

In the letter inviting Goggins, Towns wrote: "when you appeared before the Committee on May 27, 2010, you testified that you were not aware of the behavior of the contractors who conducted the phantom recall. However, after that hearing the Committee obtained a Johnson & Johnson//McNeil document that instructed the contractors how to behave while conducting the phantom recall. Please be prepared to discuss this apparent inconsistency at the September 30, 2010 hearing."